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Exterior View of the Palais Bulles | © Sebastien Nogier/Epa/REX/Shutterstock
Exterior View of the Palais Bulles | © Sebastien Nogier/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

The Beauty of Cannes' Architecture in Five Buildings

Picture of Alex Ledsom
Updated: 15 June 2017

Whether it’s the grand tea room of the old Grand Hotel (which is now the contemporary art museum), the infamous Intercontinental Carlton Hotel or the private house of Pierre Cardin (the “Palais Bulles“), Cannes has a lot to offer architecture lovers. Here are five of the most interesting architectural wonders in Cannes.

Palais Bulles

A few minutes drive from Cannes town centre in neighbouring Théoule-sur-Mer, high in the hills overlooking the bay, is the quirky “Palais Bulles” (bubble house). It was designed by architect Antti Lovag and owned by French fashion designer, Pierre Cardin. It’s a series of pink, circular buildings, running into one another, each with their own circular perspective on the bay beyond. Truly wonderful. It is still used in the fashion world — Dior held a show here — but it’s private property. Don’t show up without an invitation.

The Palais Bulles is a labyrinth of bubble buildings and truly spectacular | © Remy Fay

Palais Bulles, Cannes, France | © Remy Fay

Mairie de Cannes

The Town Hall in Cannes was built by Louis Hourlier over a three-year period, finishing in 1877. It’s a great example of architecture from the period (and well preserved) and overlooking the port of Cannes, it offers a lovely opportunity to gaze out at the sea while marveling at the buildings.

Mairie de Cannes,

Mairie de Cannes, France | © Nadezda Murmakova/Shutterstock

Château Thorenc

Château Thorenc was originally designed in the 1870s for the Duchess of Bedford and many famous and prestigious gardeners worked on its landscaping throughout the 19th and 20th centuries; the results of which are still evident today. The building was completely modernised in the 1960s into chic apartments (which all face south), which still retain many of the classical features, as well as access to the sumptuous grounds, swimming pool, tennis courts and gardens. It’s one of the most enviable addresses in Cannes.

38 Boulevard d’Oxford, Cannes

Intercontinental Carlton Hotel

Designed by Charles Dalmas in 1911, the 340-room hotel is a wonderful example of French Art Nouveau architecture. The two domes are said to be based on the breasts of Caroline Otero, the most famous courtesan at the time. It has everything — a private beach, terraces, views, restaurants and cinematic and music history; it featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950s movie, To Catch A Thief starring Grace Kelly, and Elton John’s music video, “I’m Still Standing”.

It is the most prestigious place to stay during the Cannes Film Festival and has been the location of many jewellery heists. In 1994, three thieves made off with $60 million worth of jewels from the store, after brandishing guns, and they have never been found (the guns were later found to be firing blanks).

Carlton Hotel | Courtesy of the Carlton Hotel

La Malmaison

Situated on La Croisette, the famous esplanade on the seafront at Cannes, this was the site of the former Grand Hotel, which was shut, demolished and then completely rebuilt. The only thing that remains of the old building is this seaside pavilion, the former games and tea room. After being bought by the city and following considerable renovation work in 1983, it is now the centre of modern contemporary art in Cannes. It hosts two exhibitions a year, showcasing the masters like Matisse and Picasso and more modern 20th-century work.